Over the past decade, Lane’s pole-vaulting program has proven to be one of the best in the Pacific Northwest.
Lane sophomore pole-vaulters Zach Olivera and Anna Jensen each won individual titles in the event at the 2013 Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championship, and sophomore pole-vaulters Eric Jorgenson and Tara Carlton took individual titles in 2012.
The Titans’ pole-vaulters have dominated their competition for nearly a decade, winning 10 individual NWAACC titles since 2006.
Lane pole-vaulting coach Dan West, who has coached at Lane since 1999, has established a tradition to help maintain his program’s success.
Each January for the past 12 years, West and his athletes have made the 430-mile road trip to Reno, Nev., to attend the National Pole-Vault Summit, a three-day clinic sponsored by United Canvas and Sling.
“It’s really a learn-by-doing clinic and a competition, with the competition being the least important part,” West said. “The top, elite, Olympic-type athletes always show up, so we get a chance to meet them. It’s not something you get to do every day, so it’s pretty exciting.”
The Titans don’t participate in a formal indoor track and field season, so the summit often offers the only competition Lane’s pole vaulters will see before the outdoor season begins.
This year’s event featured dozens of guest speakers, including 2008 Olympian Erica Bartolina and Fresno State University track and field head coach Bob Fraley.
“Our athletes trust me, but when they hear famous coaches say the same thing I’m saying, it helps make it easier later when I tell them to do that,” West said.
The Summit ran Jan. 17 and 18, with all clinics and assemblies taking place on the first day, as well as the Masters and Global Elite competitions.
The Global Elite competition featured several world-class pole-vaulters, including French International and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie, as well as Becky Holiday, who finished second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.
“You find out very soon that the pros are just like you, just ordinary people that share the same love and desire that you have,” Olivera said. “Just going my first year changed my whole mentality on how I lift, run and vault.”
On the second day, all high school, college and open competitions took place.
Twelve Lane athletes compete at the summit, including their five returning All-Americans: sophomore pole-vaulters Conner White and Kayla Vasquez, as well as Jensen, Jorgenson and Olivera.
Sophomore pole-vaulters Luke McKay, Sean Duncan, Jason Feagles and Paris Piva, as well as freshman pole-vaulters Anna Loken, Marialice Rowland and Janelle Noga, also made the trip and competed for the Titans.
“This is my 16th year now, and this is without a doubt the Titans’ deepest pole-vault group we’ve ever had,” Lane track and field head coach Grady O’Conner said. “I would stack it up against most of the programs, talent and depth-wise, at any division across the Northwest.”
“This is something to break up the winter and make it really feel like what we do is worthwhile,” West said.
Lane will host the Titans’ first official outdoor meet on March 8 and 9, when they begin their season with the Lane Preview.